Councils around the country are urging residents to be more careful in light of changes to council tax and bailiff rules, coming into effect from Sunday 6th April. New fees that have been introduced will see debtors charged a single, non-refundable amount of £75 as soon as council tax arrears or other debts are given over to bailiffs, who have been renamed enforcement agents, and this means those falling behind on payments need to be aware of changes that could affect them and their ability to make payments.
When enforcement action begins, such as an agent visiting the home in question, then another fee of £235 is added along with a further 7.5% of any debt over the amount of £1,500. These government-set fees, rather than going to the council, are kept instead by the enforcement company, and could pose additional problems to those already struggling to pay fees due to low income or other issues. Despite tough new rules regarding what the new enforcement agents can and can’t do, rising fees are bad news for those poorest families most at risk of falling into debt
Extra fees could result in a spiralling effect that catches people out who are unable to keep up to date with their council tax payments, and adds to the stress already applied by the promise of a visit from bailiffs. With support for those poorest households already cut, leaving many families without the means to pay, the additional worry of extra fees when payments fall behind could be disastrous. Services provided by companies such as Council Tax Advisors, however, can help those negatively affected through the process, which can often be devastating for individuals and families involved.
Councils still maintain that these new enforcement officers are a last resort, and only deployed when debts have become a big enough problem to warrant their involvement, but those who have fallen victim to bad bailiffs in the past may still have reservations about how well the new rules and restrictions will be applied. With hope for change on that front, however, it is the rising fees that are a bigger cause for concern. If households are struggling with payments and fear further debt built up by the fees, then, CTA are here to help with advice and sensible strategies for repayment.